Confusion with Political and Religious Discussion Aversion

Growing up, religion and politics were ubiquitous topics in our household. We went to church two times a week, and were almost always involved in at least one weekly Bible study or church member hangout. My church was considered a missions church, and they would spend thousands of dollars a year sending families and individuals on ministry trips all over the world. My mom and brother talked about politics a lot, my dad too but not quite as much. Hell, my mom even ran, unsuccessfully, for Mounds View School Board one year. My involvement and exposure shaped an untold amount of my views when I was younger. I hold a scant view of the same beliefs and opinions I did when I was growing up, but it would be absurd to think that the process did not shape who I am in some way. This provides context for my utter confusion at a widespread unwritten social rule that I did not encounter until I was an adult.

Lately more and more people I meet say that it is impolite, gauche, etc. to discuss matters of religion and politics in private conversation, such as around the dinner table or at family gatherings. Also, I have learned that a lot of people are very guarded about their religious beliefs in general, whether they think it is a gauche topic or not. I am bewildered by this.

I generally believe in trying to understand the opposing point of view as much as I can, so I have thought of a couple reasons why this might be. 1. It is a catalyst for drama and heated discussions in what should otherwise be a jovial or amiable gathering and can upset the mood. 2. By far the more cynical of the reasons, the people who say this are very insecure in their beliefs and do not appreciate them being questioned.

If it is mainly the second one then ok, that at least gives me some insight on how to approach someone like this later. I highly doubt this represents the majority of people who say to not discuss politics or religion, so I will not spend any more time on this.

As for the first reason, I can understand that, but that does not actually answer my concerns.

Consider this: If you believe you have the answers to the ultimate truths, such as what happens after we die, what our purpose is, whether is there a higher power, then how is that not the most important thing in the entire world, and why would you not do whatever you can to share that with everyone? That is what my church did growing up, that is what a lot of religious people do. If you think you have the answers, why do you not want to share the answers with everyone? Likewise, if you do not think you have the answers, why would you not want to speak with others about what the answers might be? If you think you have the answers to the most important topics in the universe but do not share them with others, then it seems as if you either do not care about what happens to other people or do not actually fully believe what you think you do. If you do not think you have all of the answers but do not wish to try and find them out, do you care about the truth? What do you find important then?

For political topics, it makes a little bit more sense, but I believe my point still stands. Whether you have a strong conviction in your beliefs or not, politics is central to the lives of every single person in the United States, so why would you not want to make sure you have the most well-balanced, accurate view as possible by speaking with others about what they think?

As a minor rebuttal to myself on the politics argument, it can often be on a topic-by-topic basis, and I understand and accept that. On a lot of topics, someone can be simply, hilariously, tragically wrong, or someone can be unwilling to change their mind, and I agree that in those situations discussion is futile. However, my main gripe is with those who say that any political talk of any kind is off-limits.

I want to clarify that I am not saying that we should always be talking about these topics and nothing else all the time, or you should try to force these topics on someone who genuinely does not want to talk about them. Professional environments are also mostly (but not always!) exempt from this as it could cause distractions from tasks at hand. This is solely for those who say that such topics are never appropriate in polite conversation, and those that are enigmatically discreet about what they believe. Perhaps this is a nitpick and not as widespread as I am making it sound, I could be convinced of that, but I do know that those who believe such things do exist.

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